National

'THEY WERE INNOCENT'

Colleagues remember 9/11 dead

Colleagues of Japanese victims of last year’s terrorist attacks in the United States solemnly observed the first anniversary on Wednesday, with many companies holding a moment of silence in remembrance of those who died when the World Trade Center buildings collapsed.

“They were innocent,” a Mizuho Financial Group employee said, “If only I could turn back the clock to one year ago, I would want to prevent what has happened.”

Twelve Japanese and seven local staff of Mizuho’s New York office died in the attack.

Mitsui Trust Financial Group lost three Japanese and two American employees at the New York office of its subsidiary Chuo Mitsui Trust Bank. Around 6,700 employees at the holding company and its two subsidiary banks observed a minute of silence at 8:50 a.m.

No other memorial events were held Wednesday at Mitsui out of respect for the wishes of the victims’ families, according to the company’s public relations department.

A moment of silence was observed by the roughly 3,000 employees at Nishi-Nippon Bank at 8:46 a.m. — the exact time in New York when the first hijacked plane hit the north tower — in honor of their two colleagues who died in the attacks.

The remains of 42-year-old Kazuhiro Anai, deputy head of the bank’s New York branch, and his colleague Takuya Nakamura, 30, were found in the debris at the site, now known as Ground Zero. The men were winding up business after the bank’s branch on the 102nd floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower was shut down five days before the attacks.

“Some kind of response against terrorism is necessary, but is it good enough just with military action?” said Minoru Matsubara, head of the bank’s emergency response headquarters, questioning the U.S. response.

In Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, Anai’s parents and other family gathered Wednesday morning in front of his grave, which bears the phrase, “Died in New York due to the terrorist attacks on the United States.”

“We would have been living together right now,” said Anai’s 70-year-old father, Nobuyuki. “My thoughts (for my son) are the same even after one year has passed. I feel sorry for him.”

Antiterrorism stance

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda expressed Japan’s resolve Wednesday to step up efforts to terminate terrorism in cooperation with the international community.

“Terrorism is a despicable attack against human beings,” the government’s top spokesman said. “Japan will strive to terminate terrorism in collaboration with other countries.”

Fukuda offered condolences to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and their relatives.

“Many precious lives, including those of 24 Japanese, were lost, and many other people suffered. We as the (Japanese) government will offer our sincere condolences to all those who were victimized and express our sympathies to their families and those close to them,” he said during his daily news briefing.